By T. Scott Boatright
Johnathan Brantley got his start as a standout football player at Grambling Laboratory High School, now known as Lincoln Preparatory School.
Most recently he’s been serving as special teams analyst at Louisiana Tech, one of the few staff members making the move from serving under Skip Holtz to play the same role for new Bulldogs head coach Sonny Cumbie.
He’s also served as head coach for the football programs at Madison Parish and Ringgold high schools in north Louisiana.
But now Brantley is southbound to take over the football program at Baton Rouge’s Capitol High School, where he’ll replace former GSU teammate Corey Brownfield as the Golden Lions’ head coach.
“I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I posted it on Facebook and it got the response it did,” Brantley said of his new role as head Lion. “A lot of my friends and former teammates are from Baton Rouge and all they could talk about was that it was one of the most prestigious Black high schools down there and who all played there over the years.”
Capitol opened in 1950 as the second public high school for Black students in Baton Rouge. Originally opened as a school for middle and high schoolers, the middle school and high school split in 1959.
“There’s a lot of history there,” Brantley said. “They went 5-6 last year, but I’m determined to get them back to the top.”
Brantley knows that will be a challenge considering the school’s last state title came in 1955.
He also realizes that taking over a football program in July for a season that will soon be opening its season won’t be easy.
Brantley is a defensive-minded coach as a former defensive back, but said that he’ll do a little tweaking to the Capitol offense while still leaving it largely intact.
“Because I’m starting so late, I’m trying to piggyback off of what they were doing and put a little bit of my own style into it,” Brantley said.
“It’s July. I can’t go in there and revamp the whole system right now without any spring football and everything. They’ve got some talent out there. I’ve just got to try to pull it together and get them playing better.
Brantley said he’s headed down to Baton Rouge today after finishing up assisting at recent LA Tech football camps and that working on putting a staff together will be one of his first orders of business.
“I’ve had a couple of old teammates from Grambling trying to point me in the right direction as far as assistant coaches,” Brantley said. “The one guy I do know I’m taking with me is my nephew Devin Price, who played at Ruston High before he graduated in 2014. I know he’s going to take over as defensive back coach and oversee strength and conditioning ”
Brantley said he did make sure to make an important call before announcing he was headed to Capitol.
“I called Coach Cumbie to tell him because I respect him so much,” Brantley said. “I told him, and he said that he’s so proud of me and that if I need anything to let him know. I love Coach Cumbie. It was kind of bittersweet having to clean out my locker. With the new staff I had been there with the Tech program as long as anybody, if not longer.”
One big question Brantley has been asked in recent days is what will happen with his sons?
His oldest son Jonathan is a starting senior defensive lineman at Ruston High School while Joshua is a sophomore quarterback playing second-string for the Bearcats behind Jaden Osborne.”
“Jonathan is a senior and has drawn a lot of attention and wants to stay at Ruston — he has a solid comfort zone there,” Brantley said.
But Joshua is still trying to decide whether to remain a Bearcat or to join his father with the Golden Lions.
“That’s something he’s still trying to figure out,” Brantley said. “Either way he’ll have my full support.”
And that support will include significant time spent by Brantley watching the Bearcats from the stands.
“I’m keeping my home up there and finding an apartment down there,” Brantley said. “One thing that really enticed me about this job is that Capitol will play seven games this season on Thursdays. That’s part of what really sold me — I’ll still get to watch my son or my sons play for Ruston. Coach Brownfield did that because he had a son who played at University High on Fridays. So that’s a Capitol tradition I’m going to keep.
“I’m just excited to get this opportunity. I’m so thankful to get it. I look forward to the challenge and am ready to meet it head on.”
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE